Student Jobs for Spanish Class Story Days

In the first part of this series on stories in Spanish class, I shared my favorite signals and expectations for students to use during classroom story telling and asking. However, using signals to ask questions and show understanding isn’t the only way students are asked to participate! Giving student jobs in Spanish class during story telling is a great way to boost student engagement. Do you have a jokester, or someone who needs help focusing? Give an appropriate moment to steal the spotlight and they will shine like you’ve never seen them shine before! Have a quiet student who would prefer not to draw attention to themselves? There’s a job for them too!

Every time we’re going to use a story in class I start off by reviewing the signals students should use to communicate with me. Then, we move on to finding volunteers (or victims) that are responsible for the jobs that day. I don’t have the same students do the same job every time, mostly because a) there aren’t jobs for everyone b) I like switching things up and c)it feels like way less work to just randomly choose students every time, rather than having to keep track of who has done what and who hasn’t. You absolutely could assign jobs and rotate them. I just think my head would explode trying to manage it. We also don’t story every single day, so the random aspect works well!

I have a few jobs I use during every story, but there are also jobs that change depending on the story itself. Let’s start with the ones I use every time!

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Student Jobs for Every Story

Timer – This student takes out their cell phone and sets an alarm for 8 minutes. When the alarm goes off, they stand up and the whole class celebrates that we just spent 8 minutes in Spanish. We usually do a brain break at this time as well!

It doesn’t have to be 8 minutes. It could be 5.  Or 6. Whatever you think your class will do well with. The majority of my students are 8th-10th graders and 8 minutes works perfectly for us.

Mago/Maga – This student puts an alarm on their phone for 4-5 minutes before the end of class. When that alarm goes off, they stand up and yell, “Alakazam!” This gives us time to do a comprehension listening quiz, pack up, and be dismissed.

The alarm will vary – some times they set it for 10 minutes, sometimes just 2 minutes before class is over. The point is that they let you know when it’s time to be done with the story!

For both Timer and Mago/a, it’s important to set the expectation that if the phone is out for a job, it’s face down or not in their hands. Some students can’t handle the job and the temptation, so they get fired. Mago/a isn’t as much of a temptation because once they set the alarm it’s good to go, but sometimes the Timers forget that once they hit go, they really don’t need their phones anymore! I also really like the idea of a massive stop watch for the white board to track classroom minutes in Spanish! That could be a good option if you have a class of fired Timers!

Quién – Whenever you hear the word, “quién”, hoot like an owl.

This job is to help students know what I’m looking for when I ask this question. “Quién” means who, so they know they’re thinking about a person.

Note Taker – Record what happens in our story.

Exactly what it sounds like. It’s this student’s job to copy down what we cover during the day. They are one of the only 2 people in the class I allow to have paper and pencil out during a story.

Artista – Illustrate what happens during our story.

Note Taker and Artista are one of the ways I “catch up” with students who are absent during story telling. I’ll snap a pic of their work and post it in Google Classroom, or occasionally hang it on the wall by the turn in bin for students to re-read for more practice.

No English Enforcer – If I speak English for more than 5 seconds, throw a ball of crumpled up paper at me.

This is probably the most highly coveted job. I give them a point if they remember to do it, two points if they actually hit me. It also is great for humor because sometimes they’re too eager and throw it before the five seconds are up. I’ll make a big deal about it and make them count to five with me, slowly, in Spanish to practice. Comedic relief is a great thing!

Story Specific Student Jobs

The first jobs listed are ones I use EVERY time, no matter what! However, there are also additional jobs that I include that change with the story. I wanted to give you a few ideas and examples of student jobs that change from story to story.

Rejoinders – I do always include rejoinders as a student job, but the rejoinders shift from story to story! I have been trying hard to “trickle in” rejoinders this year. Our first one was “¡Qué Lástima!” and the student had to hold up the sign and say that whenever something was “too bad”. As the class starts to get the hang of the rejoinder, I’ll add in another! Sometimes we’ll have 3-4 rejoinder jobs at once! Once the whole class starts to just naturally use the rejoinder, I have been retiring the job, and hanging the poster on the wall. I think it’s a neat way to show the ones I feel like we have a good handle on, and helps me remember when to add more!

There are a ton of options for rejoinders in Spanish class! TPRS has some free posters you can use. I just make them in PowerPoint as I go, but there are tons online too! 

Sound Effects – I love these ones, and so do the students! If there’s an animal in our story, sound effects are a must. Gato? Someone had better meow every time they hear it! The point to this is a) making a connection with the word and meaning and b) humor and engagement! You’d be surprised at how many times you can get a student to bark in a class period.

Sound effects don’t have to be limited to animals! We did a story about time a bit ago and every time a student heard a time they tic tocked like a clock.

Echoes – Grant Boulanger has my favorite video ever of this. You must watch it. Essentially, he wanted his students to hear a word more often. So, he made it a student job to repeat the word every time he said it. Awesome!

Call and Response I’m not super sure of what to call this category, but it reminds me of my days as a cheerleader. The idea is, when I say something, the student responds with a specific phrase. For example, I say “corre” and the student says, ‘Más rápido”.

There are tons of things you could do as a job during story telling. Sometimes classes will naturally create their own jobs – go with it! It can be super fun, they’ll be into it, and they’ll make those connections with their learning. Win, win, win.

Thoughts and Reflections

There are also a few jobs that I like the idea of, but haven’t tried yet. For example, you can have a student count how many times you say a target structure during a class period, or tally how many questions you ask! I just got a counter to be able to do this easily and I can’t wait to try it out!

I also like the idea of a Greeter/Bouncer to open the door and greet pass runners. Currently I open the door and the WHOLE class says, “Hola, visitante” and we have a brief conversation with them. It could be nice to just have a student open the door, then take and deliver the passes.

Using student jobs during stories is a great way to boost engagement and participation. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. It also gives you a great chance to let your students shine, make connections, and get to know their personalities even more!

What are your favorite jobs for your students during stories? Did I miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let me know!

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